On April 22, HUD announced the availability of funding to expand affordable housing opportunities for people with mental illnesses and other disabilities. HUD's Super Notice of Funding Availability("SuperNOFA") includes funding for several federal housing programs with specific information regarding application processes; listing of eligible applicants and activities; and funding levels for various programs.
SuperNOFA is Key for HUD Programs Serving Non-Elderly Adults With Severe Mental Illness The HUD SuperNOFA announcement represents a critical step in the process of how local governments, housing authorities and non-profits access federal housing funds. NAMI state and local affiliates and advocates have an important role to play in pushing local officials and housing organizations to apply for programs that target housing resources to non-elderly adults with severe mental illnesses. Over the coming weeks and months, state and local housing officials, housing authority directors and non-profit groups will be deciding whether or not apply for HUD funding through programs such as Section 8, Section 811 and McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance. In many states and communities, it will take the assertive advocacy of NAMI leaders to push these officials to make a priority of seeking HUD funds for individuals with severe mental illness.
NAMI affiliate leaders and advocates are urged to take the materials included below regarding the FY 2003 HUD SuperNOFA to state and local housing officials, housing authority directors and non-profit groups and urge them to apply funding for HUD resources that target people with severe mental illness. A complete listing of programs included in the SuperNOFA is available by clicking on: http://www.hud.gov/offices/adm/grants/fundsavail.cfm, or calling the HUD SuperNOFA help line at 1-800-HUD-8929.
Below is a detailed analysis of the various programs covered in this year's HUD SuperNOFA. NAMI is extremely grateful to the staff at the Technical Assistance Collaborative for compiling this information. The Technical Assistance Collaborative is a national non-profit consulting firm that specializes in assisting disability organizations and advocates in accessing and directing affordable housing resources. All NAMI affiliates should be receiving "Opening Doors" a quarterly newsletter on housing policy as it affects people with disabilities. More information on TAC's efforts to further housing policy for people with disabilities, and back issues of the "Opening Doors" newsletter is available at: http://www.tacinc.org/housingframe.html
1) HUD'S Continuum of Care Homeless Assistance Programs The SuperNOFA also announced the availability of $1.06 billion in funding for HUD's three McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance programs. Funding for these homeless programs is available through the development and submission of a Continuum of Care plan to HUD. The deadline for the submission of applications for McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance funding is July 15, 2003. Additional information on this year's NOFA the McKinney-Vento program is available at: http://www.hud.gov/offices/adm/grants/nofa/grpthhap.cfm
The Continuum of Care is a strategic plan developed via a community-wide planning/decision-making process that is designed to involve government officials, advocates, people who are homeless and formerly homeless, non-profit organizations from the housing and service sectors; and other local stakeholders. The Continuum of Care process analyzes the services and housing available in a community as compared to the needs of people who are homeless in that same area. This process includes the development of strategies to address identified Continuum needs, including applying to HUD for homeless program funds. More information on the HUD Continuum of Care, is available at: http://www.tacinc.org/housingframe.html
Permanent Housing Set-Aside As with the last three year's of Homeless Continuum of Care competitions, applicants seeking homeless funds to provide permanent housing for homeless people with disabilities will have a better chance of obtaining these funds this year. To increase the amount of permanent housing developed through these programs, Congress has required HUD to spend at least 30 percent of all McKinney-Vento funding on permanent housing - as much as $318 million. This permanent housing "set-aside" in McKinney-Vento funding is an incentive for non-profit organizations and governments to use these funds to expand housing opportunities for people with severe mental illnesses using all three programs. HUD will even increase a community's homeless funding formula (the so-called "pro-rata needs share") up to $750,000 if the community is large enough and submits a new permanent housing application as its number one funding priority.
2) Section 811 Program for People with Disabilities $116 million in funding is available to develop housing through the Section 811 Supportive Housing Program for Persons with Disabilities. The Section 811 program was designed to help people with disabilities (including people with severe mental illness) who have very low incomes live independently in the community by giving non-profit organizations the resources to develop safe and affordable housing. The application deadline is June 13, 2003.
Section 811 funding may be used by non-profit organizations to finance the construction, rehabilitation, acquisition, and operating costs of a variety of housing options ranging from small group homes and independent living facilities to units in multi-family housing, condominium, and cooperative housing developments. More information on the Section 811 Program is available at: http://www.hud.gov/offices/adm/grants/nofa/grpsec811.cfm
3) Section 811 "Mainstream" Vouchers for People with Disabilities The need to expand housing opportunities for people with disabilities has never been greater. A tight housing market combined with the extremely low-incomes of people with disabilities has created a situation where a person with a disability receiving SSI benefits is unable to rent modest apartment in any area in the country.
Section 8 rental assistance, also known as vouchers, can help address the housing needs of people with disabilities by providing monthly tenant-based rental assistance to consumers – a portable monthly rent subsidy that pays the
difference between the fair market rent level 30% of a tenant's monthly income. The 2003 SuperNOFA includes the availability of up to 1,800 Section 8 Housing Choice tenant-based rental vouchers available from HUD. Specifically,
HUD is offering $53.6 million in funding for 1,800 five-year Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers exclusively targeted to people with disabilities available through the Mainstream Housing Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities
program. These funds are available to both qualified non-profit disability organizations as well as PHAs administering the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program. Qualified applicants can apply for up to 50 vouchers and will be selected through a lottery system. The application deadline is June 18, 2003. Click here to learn more about the Mainstream Program and view this year's application: http://www.hud.gov/offices/adm/grants/nofa/grpsec8.cfm
HUD will rank applications based on selection criteria. Within the selection criteria, HUD has placed in increased emphasis on efforts to end chronic homelessness providing additional points to PHAs who target not less than 10% of the vouchers to disabled families that are chronically homeless. HUD plans to award vouchers to the topped ranked applicants. It is important to note that in this SuperNOFA, HUD is not offering funding through the Rental Assistance for Non-Elderly Persons with Disabilities Related to Certain Developments program and the Designated Housing Program – funding that had been available in years FY 1997 through FY 2002.
Partnerships Between PHAs and NAMI Affiliates Historically, PHAs have had a better chance of receiving new Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers through this funding opportunity than non-profit disability organizations such as NAMI affiliates or other non-profits in the mental illness field (CMHCs, clubhouses, etc.). Likewise, cross-disability coalitions etween PHAs and groups such as the Arc, UCP, Easter Seals, ILCs, etc. that include NAMI affiliates can also be very helpful in successfully applying for HUD funds. This is because PHAs are not only eligible for entry in the Mainstream lottery, but are also eligible to receive any additional funding from the pots of Section 8 disability funds.
Given this restriction, many non-profit disability organizations (including NAMI affiliates) have found that partnering with a PHA, as opposed to applying on their own, is a more effective and efficient use of their resources. PHAs also often have greater experience running a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program. With a constructive partnership between local NAMI organizations and the local PHA, these vouchers can be a valuable tool in addressing the affordable housing crisis faced by people with disabilities in each community.
Finally, it is important to note that under the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program rules, PHAs and non-profit disability organizations administering the program are required to serve all people with disabilities who are eligible for the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program, regardless of the type of disability. To illustrate this point, a non-profit organization serving people with mental illness may be eligible to apply for Mainstream funding, but, if funded, would be required to offer Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers on a first come-first serve basis to any eligible disabled person, not just people with mental illnesses. Click here to learn more about the application process for the Section 811 "Mainstream" Voucher program: http://www.tacinc.org/housingframe.html